Archive for: November, 2010

Republican Representative Joe Barton Needs to be Censured Now

Nov 30 2010 Published by under Featured News, Republican Party

This is How Republicans Roll

Joe Barton Needs to be Censured Now

Joe Barton, the ranking House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican, is circulating a slideshow via email in which he pledges to do for the Obama administration what Gen. Patton and company did for Germany, including “put anything in my scope and I will shoot it.” A party of integrity would call for a public reprimand via a censure of such behavior, but you can bet the Republicans will roll with this kind of reprehensible behavior so long as it continues to be politically advantageous among their base.

Last night, the Washington Post’s Al Kamen reported on Barton’s power point presentation:

“Then comes the money slide, titled: “What’s in Store for the Obama Administration,” with photos of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Generals Omar Bradley and George Patton in uniform.
“Speaker Boehner is our Dwight Eisenhower in the battle against the Obama Administration. Majority Leader Cantor is our Omar Bradley. I want to be George Patton – put anything in my scope and I will shoot it.””

Censure is a procedure for publicly reprimanding a public official for inappropriate behavior. It derives from the formal condemnation of either a congressional body of their own members. Article 1, Section 5 of the Constitution states that each house of Congress may set its own rules of behavior, and by two-thirds vote expel a member. So it’s up the current House ethics rules to determine whether he is censured. It might be argued that this did not take place on the House floor and therefor can’t be censured, but clearly if the House wished to take issue with Barton and thereby set an expectation of reasonable civility, they would find a way.

This isn’t the first time Mr Barton has played by his own set of ethics rules. CREW reports:

“In 2009, CREW called him out for finding “a way to a new low in Washington.” For Rep. Barton, the divide between money and politics doesn’t seem so wide….

According to a February 2010 article in the Dallas Morning News, Rep. Barton earned nearly $100,000 from an interest in natural gas wells purchased from a longtime friend and campaign donor, Walter Mize….

In April 2009, the Washington Times reported that Rep. Barton’s charitable foundation pledged to donate $900,000 to benefit the local Boys and Girls Club and Meals-on-Wheels programs. While the community lauded the Barton Foundation for its generosity, in reality the foundation only donated $90,000 to the Boys and Girls Club between 2005 and 2006 despite raising $397,467 during that same two-year period…

CREW first reported in 2004 on a scandal involving Westar Energy and members of Congress, including Reps. Tom DeLay, Billy Tauzin (R-LA) and Joe Barton (R-TX). According to a 2003 CorpWatch report, Internal memos released by Westar revealed a plan by executives to “get a seat at the table” during congressional discussions on former Pres. Bush’s 2002 energy plan by contributing over $56,000 to key republicans in Congress. Internal company communication identified Joe Barton and Billy Tauzin as “key House Conferees on our legislation.””

There’s plenty more where that came from, but by now you’re probably convinced that this man will not be held accountable in any way for his lack of ethics.

This man who thinks Obama is like a Nazi would like to run the Energy Committee, so it behooves us to ask just who does he think the good guys are? BP? Oh, yes, that’s right. Barton apologized to BP after the President held them accountable to the people negatively impacted by the Gulf Oil spill.

Barton’s slideshow is full of other false promises like repealing ObamaCares, which he knows he can’t and won’t do, but again, the base loves this circus act of irrational swaggering, and so on the clown show goes.

While Republicans may enjoy turning serious matters like governing into a one act clown show, and certainly their support for Ms Palin should leave no doubt in this area, the rest of America has their eye on important things like jobs, food, housing, and the corporate takeover of America. Republicans may eat up the hate, saliva drooling from their collective mouths at the thought of chicken Barton ever shooting anything (he who managed to avoid going to Vietnam), but Americans are repulsed by this sort of rhetoric.

Mr. Barton should be censured now. But since we all know Republicans don’t believe in good behavior and therefor will not censure their own (this is an activity they save up to use against Democrats), American citizens may wish to contact their representatives and demand that Barton not be given a leadership position in the House. Perhaps that will teach Mr Barton about the consequences of his actions.

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150,000 March in Dublin to Protest IMF/ECB Bailout and Austerity Budget

Nov 30 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues

This week saw what has been described as the largest demonstration in the history of the Irish state, as an estimated 150,000 people marched through Dublin city centre to protest the Irish government’s draconian new austerity budget and the arrival of the IMF.  They came from all over the country and from all walks of life, united in the belief that there is a better way to deal with Ireland’s economic woes. The march had been arranged by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

The evening before, I had ventured out through the frost and snow to gauge the mood in my town in the rural south of Ireland. “Well, march on,” a young man laughed, “there is nothing we can do about it, but we can always loot as the country burns. It’s Armageddon! My band is playing tonight,” he continued, “we’re like the last band playing on the Titanic!” Another guy scowled into his pint. “What are they marching for,” he scoffed, “it’s not going to change anything. The politicians won’t give a damn. That march is just an excuse to go on the piss in Dublin.” A woman dismissively waved her hand at the mention of the week’s events. “I stopped watching the news,” she told me, but went on to add that the cuts in the minimum wage which are outlined in the new austerity budget would spell disaster for her. Another man was more militant in his anger. “If the Government let this happen, they’ll have to leave the country. Otherwise they will get shot.” When I asked by whom, he shrugged. “Take your pick.”

As I sat on the Dublin-bound train that morning, I wondered what to expect.  Two elderly gentlemen next to me were earnestly discussing where to buy eggs to throw at the Dáil, while a mother fussed over her children’s woolly hats and gloves. The Gardaí (Irish police) estimated that up to 60,000 people would attend, but the atmosphere in the country was so tense that this seemed a low figure. On the other hand, severe snowfall might discourage many.

As the crowd began to gather at the rallying point in Dublin, the mood was nervous and excited. “Ready for a riot,” a young man jokingly asked, a sarcastic glint in his eyes. His friends laughed nervously.  The crowd was surrounded by police. Flags were unfurled and signs raised as the march was begun, led by the drone of bagpipes and the shrill screech of tens of thousands of whistles.

The entire city center was engulfed by the march, a sea of red trade union flags, banners, Irish tricolors and protest signs. “There Is a Better, Fairer Way,” one popular sign exclaimed, “Cowen Out!!” another. “Fianna Fáil: You Fail and You’re Fired,” read another. “6.7% – Nein Danke,” another exclaimed, referring to the then reported interest rate demanded by the ECB/IMF for the €85bn bailout. Despite the somber occasion, wry Irish humor still shone through. “Educational Cuts Means my Spolling is Terracle,” a sign joked, while a man climbed the steps to the Dublin city council hall to wave a huge sign at the protesters, reading, “You Useless Bastards!” He turned his sign with a grin, and the other side read: “Not You, The Government, Obviously!” A lone representative of the apocalyptic contingent brandished a sign stating: “The End Is Nigh! Jesus is Lord!”, and it was widely agreed that it takes all sorts.

As the march reached O’Connell Street, the main thoroughfare of Dublin and site of the declaration of the Irish Republic in the 1916 Easter Rising, acclaimed journalist and author Fintan O’Toole climbed the podium to address the crowd.

“We are here today to say that we are not economic units whose only function is to behave ourselves and to pay off the gambling debts of our masters, we are not children who must take our medicine or be sent to bed without our supper, we are not subjects, we are citizens and we want our Republic back,” Mr. O’Toole told the cheering crowd. Chants of ‘out, out’ broke out.

Mr. O’Toole went on to say that the Irish government’s austerity budget is not about saving the Irish people but instead represents a plan to save the Irish elite, who will always look after their own. “We know what this deal is. On the one side we will borrow yet more billions to bail out the bankers and the other side of this deal is that this society is supposed to declare war on the poor and vulnerable”.

Next, the crowd fell silent in ominous reverence as the 1916 Declaration of Independence was read. The sound of more than 100,000 people falling silent at the same time is perhaps even more striking than the sound of them chanting for the fall of a government.

More speakers appeared on stage, representatives of the young, the retired, the unemployed and others who will suffer considerably under the next austerity budget. But when Irish Congress of Trade Union leader Jack O’Connor addressed the crowd, he was greeted with a roar of contempt. Mr. O’Connor is regarded with suspicion by many, because he has reportedly served on the boards of some of the failed Irish banks – and because he, as the top representative of Irish public servants, is paid with vast amounts of taxpayers’ money. “Look at him, trying to be the champion of the people,” the man next to me scoffed as Mr. O’Connor faced the booing. His colleague, former banker David Begg fared no better.

The booing was never reported by the Irish main media outlets. Instead, the march was represented as being possibly violent and considerably smaller than the 150,000 people reported by protesters and organizers. It’s not surprising. RTÉ, the main news channel in Ireland, is after all a state-sponsored organization, meaning that its reporters are civil servants and unlikely to look kindly on the reaction to their champion. Irish civil servants are among the highest paid in Europe, and flatly reject the idea of having to suffer the same cuts as their private sector countrymen.

espite the anger of the Irish people, the march passed peacefully. A group of a few hundred broke away from the crowds of O’Connell Street and went to the Dáil (Irish Parliament). A picture of Brian Cowen, the disgraced Taoiseach (Prime Minister) was set alight, and firecrackers were thrown. But when riot police appeared with their dogs, the group apparently decided to call it a night.

There was only one reported arrest, hours after the main demonstration had dissipated. Despite the freezing cold, tens of thousands of Irish people from all walks of life and all corners of the country marched to protest what is seen as the suicidal and morally indefensible strategy of the reviled Irish government. More marches are planned for the days ahead, leading up to December 7th – a day universally dreaded as the official launch of the fourth austerity budget. It is to be hoped that they will pass in the same constructive and peaceful manner.

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Joe Scarborough Exposes Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck’s Fake Palin Support

Nov 30 2010 Published by under Featured News

Palin in Scarborough's Crosshairs

It turns out that Joe Scarborough’s criticism of Sarah Palin in a column for Politico today was just the tip of the iceberg. On his MSNBC program Morning Joe, Scarborough exposed the truth about the right and Sarah Palin. Talk radio hosts and Republican leaders privately say they don’t want her, but they are afraid to take her on. Scarborough basically accused the talk show hosts, who defend Palin for 3 hours a day on the air but don’t really support her, of lying.

Here is the video from MSNBC:

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Scarborough opened his Politico piece by discussing the GOP’s Palin problem, “Republicans have a problem. The most-talked-about figure in the GOP is a reality show star who cannot be elected. And yet the same leaders who fret that Sarah Palin could devastate their party in 2012 are too scared to say in public what they all complain about in private. Enough. It’s time for the GOP to man up.”

Scarborough expanded on his comments during Morning Joe today. His co-host Mika Brzezinski opened up the segment on the Politico story by saying, “But the bottom line is you know, we talk off set with a lot of major Republican figures, and they say all this. They refuse to say it on the record.”

Scarborough then expanded on her point, “All of them. All of them say it offset. All your talk radio show hosts that will defend Sarah Palin for three hours every day, all offset quietly say this, all your leading conservative figures, off the record, will say all of this about Sarah Palin but they want ratings and book sales and don’t want to upset the 18% of Americans who like Sarah Palin. I, however, my main concern with actually good governance.”

It doesn’t take much effort to figure who Scarborough was referring to when he mentioned talk show hosts who take the airwaves for three hours a day to defend Palin. Of course he was referring to Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and especially Glenn Beck. Judging from his statement that the talk show hosts support Palin to boost ratings and book sales, I think that he was especially taking aim at Beck.

The reason why these talk show hosts are lying to their listeners can be found by examining demographics. The average viewer age for Sarah Palin’s Alaska is 57 years old. Roughly 80% of Fox News viewers are over 50 years old, and it has been estimated that 70%-80% of Rush Limbaugh’s listeners are over 50 years old. Palin’s supporters also listen to and watch Beck, Hannity, and Limbaugh, so it is in their financial best interests to never let their true feelings about Sarah Palin be known on the air.

In order to make a buck, these right wing talkers go on the air, and lie about their support of Sarah Palin every day. What Scarborough did this morning was provide an insider’s view of how the right wing media works. It isn’t about beliefs for them. It is all about feeding the audience what they want to hear, and making money. The problem is that what that audience wants to hear could bring down the Republican Party if Sarah Palin is allowed to become their 2012 nominee.

I think almost everyone who is not on the right underestimates what a powerful brand and marketing machine Sarah Palin has established with evangelical and social conservatives. People like Beck, Hannity, and Limbaugh are happy to keep milking the Palin cash cow, and are afraid of rocking the boat. These so called voices of right wing truth are so terrified of Sarah Palin and her cult like following that they tell them exactly what they want to hear.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes these propagators of false reality to line up and proclaim their love and support of Sarah Palin, and even though some on the right will see Scarborough as a traitor or a closet liberal, he is actually doing his party a favor by exposing the dirty business of selling Sarah Palin.

37 responses so far

Christine O’Donnell Tries to Revive Clinton V Obama Narrative for 2012

Nov 30 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Christine O'Donnell Pushes PUMA meme and thinks no one will know

Christine O’Donnell Tries to Revive Clinton V Obama PUMA Narrative for 2012

Christine O’Donnell showed up this morning on Good Morning America to talk about how weak our President has been on the current Wikileaks cable dump. She managed to be a good puppet Grizzly for her Mama Bear, suggesting that President Obama was incompetent and that she would vote for Hillary Clinton in 2012 primaries because “anybody is better than Obama.”

This little narrative of the failed President Obama on Wikileaks got its best shout out yesterday on Sarah Palin’s Facebook Page, and here’s O’Donnell to carry the water for her Mama Grizzly courtesy of ABC News:

““I would love to see her take out Obama in the primary. You know, I would even be tempted to change my registration so that I could vote for her in the Democratic primary,” she told me during “GMA’s” Morning Mix.
O’Donnell praised Clinton via Twitter yesterday for her handling of the WikiLeak situation.
“You Go Girl!!” she wrote. “She’s no Reagan yet her verbal lashing against wikileak is tough- watch out Obama!”
So is the former Delaware GOP senate candidate pushing a Clinton candidacy because she thinks Clinton would be easier to beat in the general election?
“No. It’s because right now I think that anybody is better than Obama,” O’Donnell told me.”

In an effort to seem bi-partisan and pro-woman, Christine claimed to be impressed by Hillary Clinton’s handling of the situation over the President’s and said she would vote for Clinton in a 2012 primary. Note that she didn’t say general election.

I can only assume O’Donnell thinks the rest of America is as naïve as she is, because these tired narratives from 2008 and the desperate Right wing strategy to pit Obama against Clinton in a replay of 2008 are not only old, but transparent. Obviously O’Donnell has been told that the best hope for a Palin win (or any Republican for that matter) in 2012 is a divided Democratic Party, but she must not appear to be pushing for that — so stealth-like, she’s taken to tweeting out support for Hillary Clinton, suggesting Clinton’s stronger than Obama.

Maybe O’Donnell was sleeping during the failed 2008 PUMA meme or perhaps Ms Palin still believes she can siphon off those bitter Clinton voters in 2012, in spite of the fact that a) she failed to do so in 2008 and b) her approval ratings with women are much lower than her approval ratings with men, whom studies have proven are more likely to vote for attractive female candidates.

Palin launched this lame attack against the President yesterday regarding Wikileaks and has been made a laughing stock (read: nervous, unbelieving laughter) the world over for her assumption that the President has sovereignty over Sweden and her suggestion that she would treat Assange as a terrorist. For O’Donnell to keep pushing this meme is simply the act of someone who either doesn’t know the reality or who has a stake in pretending it’s not true. Both discredit her.

And it should be noted that O’Donnell is praising Clinton for her “verbal lashing out”, which is apparently a highly regarded trait in the Mama Grizzly camp. It ought to be, as it’s what Ms Palin does best. Yet, lashing out is not exactly the number one trait the country looks for in their President.

And it seems to escape O’Donnell that the job of Secretary of State and the job of President have different functions. Perhaps she missed this while she was plugging her ears during Obama’s strong statements against Wikileaks and calls for investigations and criminal charges if applicable. Oh, I know, in Palin/O’Donnell world, the constraints of the laws are nothing but blue-blood distractions from the common sense conservative approach to problems. Lash out! Show ‘em who’s boss!

If you wondered what Christine O’Donnell was going to do now that she’s been defeated mightily in her Senatorial bid and is being investigated for campaign finance malfeasance, you need wonder no longer. She’s gonna beat that Mama Grizzly drum of media fame, hawking the values of a regular person (read: don’t blame me for not knowing anything, that’s my qualification, you fool!) and gearing up to be Palin’s sidekick in 2012.

This will include a non-stop attempt to revive the failed narratives from 2008, as it’s clear Palin has no new strategy in mind for 2012. For heaven’s sake, she and O’Donnell are even dusting off the charge that Palin had more executive experience than President Obama in 2008. I guess they’re going to ignore the fact that he’s been President for two years during some of the largest challenges this country has faced in a long time, because, you know, denial of reality has always been an effective political strategy.

Palin/O’Donnell can keep pushing their delusions onto the American people, but most Americans are simply not so far gone as to fall for such blatant revisionism. If Palin plans to bring nothing new to 2012, and is instead going to rely upon hate and division to stir up the base, she’s no threat to President Obama. She may, however, be a threat to our country’s international standing and domestic well-being.

12 responses so far

Wikileaks Docs Prove America Can’t Be The Hitman For the World

Nov 30 2010 Published by under Featured News

The recent release of secret documents exposes an alarming aspect of Iran gaining a nuclear weapon, and it hints at America’s willingness to do the bidding of foreign countries that are capable of defending themselves. The underlying argument is that a nuclear Iran is a danger to the region, and no one disputes that fact. But the people who are asking America to strike Iran are working both sides of the street in claiming to be our ally at the same time they covertly support Al Qaeda.

Saudi Arabia’s leader wants the United States to strike Iran because of the nuclear threat they pose, and America must be willing comply or Saudi Arabia wouldn’t ask for America’s help. There is also an issue between the denominations within Islam because  Iran is predominately Shia and Saudi Arabia is mostly Sunni, and it is cause for strained relations between the two countries. Saudi Arabia has allegedly given Israel its blessing to take out Iran’s nuclear program, and they are urging America to do the same.

In fact, several Arab countries in the Middle East are encouraging America to attack and it begs the question; why don’t they do it themselves? After all, America made an arms sale to Saudi Arabia to the tune of $600 billion, so they must have the capability to bomb Iran themselves. Are they pushing America to strike Iran because they know the conservatives are prone to warmongering, or are they truly afraid of a nuclear Iran? Why is it left to America to wage war for other countries that sponsor terrorists and are guilty of human rights violations? It’s the oil.

It is understandable that Arabs are nervous about Iran gaining a nuclear weapon, and based on the crazy rhetoric coming from Iran, their fears are well-founded. However, America cannot be the hit-man or policeman for the world when we are engaged in two protracted wars and our economy is making a very slow recovery.

There is no defensible argument for allowing Iran to develop a nuclear arsenal, but they would not have such an easy time had America not given them authority and power in the region. The only credible deterrent to Iran was removed by George W. Bush, and it signaled their ascension as a force to be reckoned with in the region and the world.

Iran has every reason to feel threatened and intimidated because when Bush invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, it left Iran with American forces on two sides of the country, and a bunch of saber rattling conservatives in America who are anxious to use their precious bombs and bullets on another Muslim nation.

David Frum, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush and a sometimes reasonable conservative said on Sunday that many countries want us to attack Iran’s nuclear facility; as if that is reason enough to start another war. Iran will take a hit, but they will shut down access to oil in the region and Americans will be paying $5 for a gallon of gasoline. It is also worth mentioning that Iran has a formidable air force and there will be civilian casualties along with American military casualties.

There is no easy solution in dealing with Iran for many reasons, but it is not up to the United States to fight everyone’s battles for them. Saudi Arabia will not take action themselves, and there have been conflicting reports that they offered Israeli warplanes safe passage through their airspace to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. It seems that Saudi Arabia is shopping for someone to do their dirty work for them. Is it because they lack the capability or the resolve? It’s hard to say, and it’s possible they don’t want to anger their Arab neighbors. If Israel bombs the facility, it will create more animosity toward Israel from Arab nations for attacking a Muslim country. It is difficult to know who to trust on this issue, but there will have to be resolution sooner or later. A nuclear Iran is not acceptable on any level. The hope is that diplomacy and sanctions may be having an effect on Iran, but it is impossible to imagine that Iran will abandon their nuclear program to alleviate the suffering of their own people.

Since there are already bad feelings between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the fact that the Saudis have purchased military hardware from the United States, it makes sense that they should attack Iran. If it is true that many Arab nations want Iran’s nuclear facility bombed, they shouldn’t have blowback if they make a surgical strike. However, based on America’s record of war mongering for profit and oil, and Arabs hesitance to act themselves, it will be the Israelis or Americans who make the attack. If that is the case, one can only hope that a strike is surgical without great loss of life, and that it doesn’t escalate into a regional war. That is an awful lot to hope for, but at this juncture, it’s all anyone has.

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WikiSqueaks: Sarah Palin’s Incoherently Dangerous Wikileaks Criticism

Nov 29 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Sarah Palin Doesn't Understand the Limits of the US Government

GOP: Please Come to Claim Your Lost Candidate: Sarah Palin is on the Loose

As stuffed as you are from turkey, one imagines you are also stuffed full of Sarah Palin at this point, she who has infiltrated our media for two years now at a breakneck speed which leaves lesser infiltrators like Paris Hilton green with envy.

But just in case you still thought there was an ounce of “there” there with the “common sense conservative”, today the GOP’s best and brightest tweeted what she intended to be a dig at President Obama over his handling of the Wikileaks situation. Unfortunately, as is so often the case with Ms Palin, her jab is going to come right back at her, so full of tells as to why she shouldn’t be anywhere near power as it is.

Here’s what Ms Palin tweeted:

“Inexplicable: I recently won in court to stop my book “America by Heart” from being leaked,but US Govt can’t stop Wikileaks’ treasonous act?”

In case you are going to defend this tweet as a one-off, Ms Palin has backed it up on Facebook, taking aim at Obama over and over again over his “failure” to protect the troops by stopping Wikileaks, so sadly this can’t be chalked up to a bad moment on twitter.

Okay, I’m not sure where to start here so I’ll just dive in.

“Inexplicable: adjective meaning inexplainable” and inexplainable means “difficult or impossible to explain.” Yes, I’m sure you had me at hello, but we need to walk this one through from the beginning, because you see…..

It’s not impossible to explain why the President can’t stop Wikileaks. It’s very easy. Deep breath:

Not only is Wikileaks is hosted in Sweden where, I feel duty bound to point out, the President of the US does not have sovereignty as of yet and where it is impossible to commit treason against this country unless one is a US citizen residing in Sweden, but also, as Ms Palin must be aware (given her recent claim to a comminications degree that qualified her to discredit all American media save Fox News) there’s that pesky Pentagon Papers ruling (this was discussed in more depth earlier today) that all journalism/communiction majors learn about fairly early on.

Furthermore, the cables and emails of diplomats are not copyrighted, so while this comparison may make some sense to the person unschooled in law, upon examination, Ms Palin’s ability to sue Gawker over her book has nothing to do with the President’s ability to shut down any publication or organization he doesn’t like. It’s worth noting that Ms Palin actually failed to stop the leak of her book onto the internet. She did manage to get an order to have the offending pages pulled down long enough after they were posted for mirrors to be created for the curious.

And this is where the real trouble begins. Are we to believe that in Ms Palin’s America, she would assume the right to shut down any blog, paper, or freedom of information act organization she disliked by claiming they were a threat to national security (and the troops)? Would it be asking too much for American citizens to get more information on Ms Palin’s understanding of the fine tightrope between transparency and security, court precedent and a general understanding of the balance of power inherent in our government? Does Ms Palin think Americans are entitled to hear her discuss these complicated issues on a regular news outlet at some point, as the rest of our lawmakers and leaders do?

Ms Palin claims the latest round of leaks prove Obama’s incompetence:

“…the latest round of publications of leaked classified U.S. documents through the shady organization called WikiLeaks raises serious questions about the Obama administration’s incompetent handling of this whole fiasco.”

One wonders then how Ms Palin explains the leaking of her yahoo account she used to conduct Alaskan state business on to Wikileaks during the 2008 campaign. Thank goodness Sarah Palin didn’t have access to our national security secrets at that time.

She concludes with this:

“We are at war. American soldiers are in Afghanistan fighting to protect our freedoms. They are serious about keeping America safe. It would be great if they could count on their government being equally serious about that vital task.”

Ms Palin is charging the Obama administration with neglecting national security on purpose, implying that he is anti-American, as she did during the 2008 campaign. And that must sting the President, coming as it does from a person married to a once-registered secessionist. But she hits her mark with her first commenter, who picks up the dog whistle Palin is throwing down:

Gail M: “Incompetent or with some nefarious purpose? You never know with this administration.”

Well played, Ms Palin. If ya’ can’t get ‘em on policy or even a dim grasp of our laws here, why not sell ‘em some fear.This is the person John McCain just touted as a great candidate for President of this country.

It isn’t that she doesn’t know the law, it’s that she doesn’t care to know the law. It isn’t that she assumes dictator like powers as President, it’s that she has already proven in Alaska that she governs with reckless abandon for the law. This is the person quoted as saying to the Wasilla City Council leader, “‘I’m the mayor, I can do whatever I want until the courts tell me I can’t.”

Indeed, Ms Palin. We see.

Hear that, Mr Assange? She’s comin’ for ya’. And speaking of coming for people, I urge the Republican Party to gather up Ms Palin before their reputation is forever branded as the Party of Palin.

Please, GOP, come collect your candidate. She’s on the loose again.

Note: Sarah Palin’s Facebook commenter’s last name redacted.

32 responses so far

Are Julian Assange and WikiLeaks Really The Bad Guys?

Nov 29 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues

Glenn Beck's Wanted List

Glenn Beck Labels Julian Assange and WikiLeaks Really Bad Guys

This morning Glenn Beck was railing on about WikiLeaks and how the government should have shut them down after they published diplomatic cables to and from the U.S. State Department. This we expected. But then he scoffed that the government shut down the copyright infringers making faux Prada bags and yet allowed WikiLeaks to prosper (if being under DDoS attack can be seen as prospering). Aside from the issue that WikiLeaks isn’t located in the US and isn’t under our laws, for a brief moment, Glenn Beck kind of made sense.

Here’s your Professor of Doom this morning:

While Beck’s general comparison has some validity, he missed the finer points of the issue. WkiLeaks is hosted by PRQ, a Sweden-based company providing “highly secure, no-questions-asked hosting services.” Beck might want to note that even if our government wished to override precedent set by the Supreme Court in the New York Times Co v United States case in which case it was ruled that “(I)n absence of governmental checks and balances”, per Justice Stewart, “the only effective restraint upon executive policy and power in [these two areas] may lie in an enlightened citizenry – in an informed and critical public opinion which alone can here protect the values of democratic government”, it’s forbidden by Swedish law for any administrative authority to make inquiries about the sources of any type of newspaper.

Beck assumes we should shut down WikiLeaks like we shut down the Prada infringers, in order to enjoin publication of the cables. In doing so, Beck skips over the tug of war between a transparent government and the protection of U.S. national security, the eternal tango between the need to limit power without rendering it impotent. As Lord Acton warned, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

But of course, the Right isn’t interested in limiting power when it comes to issues of national security. They want President Obama to shut down WikiLeaks like the Decider would have. For a look at the reasoning behind this, The Village Voice has exposed the Right’s feelings about WikiLeaks:

National Review’s Jonah Goldberg asked, “Why wasn’t Assange garroted in his hotel room years ago?” Goldberg asserted that the leaks were “going to get people killed, including brave Iraqis and Afghans who’ve risked their lives and the lives of their families to help us.” Nonetheless, he lamented, “Even if the CIA wanted to take him out, they couldn’t without massive controversy. That’s because assassinating a hipster Australian Web guru as opposed to a Muslim terrorist is the kind of controversy no official dares invite.”

“WikiLeaks About To Leak Again and The Obama Administration Is Limp,” wrote Chandler’s Watch, further claiming that the White House “responds to the WikiLeaks bunch with cookies and milk” and suggesting its “possible complicity in this WikiLeak matter.”

The Right will always support the expansion of governmental powers under the guise of “security”, so this is no surprise. The general gist of the Right’s reaction is Obama should have assassinated Julian Assange, but since he’s too chicken to, the Right is happy to have our national security at risk if it allows them to use the information to bring down Obama.

“Which may be why Morrissey was moved to wonder, “What’s the ‘anti-war’ motive, though, in releasing a few hundred thousand diplomatic cables? Progressives are forever telling us that we need to rely less on Defense and more on State, and yet it sounds like today’s leak will do much greater damage to the latter than the previous leaks did to the former.””

Yes, that’s the question; Why is WikiLeaks doing this and why do some of the Left support it? WikiLeaks states that its “primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations.” So the goal is to reveal unethical behavior in government. How does revealing the opinions of diplomats about other heads of states combat either repressive or unethical behavior?

The argument for transparency is a legitimate one, but that’s not the exact argument being put forth in defense of WikiLeaks. However, in addressing the delicate balance between transparency and unlimited power, it’s worth noting what Nancy Kranich put forth in her public policy report, The Information Commons: “[I]f the public’s right to know is to be protected in today’s world, citizens must have optimal opportunities to acquire and exchange information. The stakes are high, for as the Supreme Court noted years ago, American democracy requires ‘the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources.'” Exceptions are routinely made for issues of National Security, but nonetheless, active citizens of a democracy will always engage in push-back against the secrecy of their government.

In the past the Left has supported WikiLeaks in revealing military secrets that they hoped would expose the US government’s agenda and lead to ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so one can argue that the Left feels that exposure of the government will lead to a stronger argument for peace. But are the chances of peace higher after the WikiLeak’s cable dump? The leaked documents will destabilize our diplomatic efforts and hinder the State Department’s efforts to continue dialogue with our allies, and for these reasons a cessation of war is not the inevitable result of the WikiLeak’s dump.

I suspect that two things will come out of these documents that were not intended. One, the Right will be far more embarrassed by documents released than President Obama (that is, by rational readers) and two, the Left will discover just why Obama has appeared to walk back his anti-war stance to the degree that it can be argued he did such (I don’t subscribe to this notion, but it’s a legitimate complaint, especially in light of how much of the support Obama received from the Left was based upon the differences between his and Hillary Clinton’s reactions to the invasion of Iraq).

Destroying our diplomatic efforts is no way to wage war for peace. WikiLeaks appears to be acting irresponsibly in the manner that they’ve gone about publishing these documents, but Glenn Beck’s suggestion that President Obama should shut them down is more of the Right’s knee-jerk support for anything defense oriented. There are legitimate needs for having the ability to expose governmental corruption and thereby attempt to hold a government accountable and responsible to the citizens. However, copyright-protected Prada bags are not the same as sensitive government documents. Leave it to Beck to classify them as such.

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks can provide an important service to the oppressed and to all citizens concerned with governmental abuses of power. In this specific case, even had the US government wanted to shut them down by legal means, they lack the authority to do so, but the government’s inability to shut them down doesn’t automatically infer that WikiLeaks acted responsibly or ethically.

As he’s wont to do, Beck’s assertion that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are “really bad guys” oversimplifies a complex matter. While they aren’t bad guys, the road to hell was paved with good intentions, and I’m afraid they’ve paved the road to hell for US diplomatic efforts. In the inevitable war between transparency and state secrets, neither should be automatically subordinate to the other without sober consideration for the consequences.

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Glenn Beck Claims That Fox News Is Chock Full of Liberals

Nov 29 2010 Published by under Featured News

On his radio show today Glenn Beck and co-host Pat Gray made what could perhaps be labeled as their most fantastic claim yet. They claimed that Fox News is crawling with liberals, “How many liberals does Fox have on the network? Many. Not just guests either, there are some who actually host programs.”

Here is the audio from Media Matters:

Beck co-host Pat Gray claimed that Fox News is full of liberals, “How many liberals does Fox have on the network? Many. Not just guests either, there are some who actually host programs. I mean yes. Can you think of any? I mean they come immediately, they spring immediately to mind. This idea, this notion that I have clearly stated in the past that there are no dissenting points of view on Fox, it’s ridiculous. It’s unbelievable. Beck chimed in with, “ Well it doesn’t matter, because look, once they start going down this trail, they’re done.”

What I found most interesting is that Gray used the same argument to defend Fox News that racists use to defend their hiring practices. Compare, Gray’s statement, “How many liberals does Fox have on the network? Many. Not just guests either, there are some who actually host programs,” to, “Sure we have lots of black people who work for us. In fact, some of them are even managers.”

Wow, who knew that Fox News was just crawling with liberals? I love their liberal shows like….hmmmm, you know, and then there is that other…..wait a minute, there are no liberal shows on Fox News. I guess Beck and company were trying to sell Shep Smith as one of the many liberal hosts on Fox, but I don’t view Shep as liberal. Smith is more like a lonely sane conservative island surrounded by a sea of right wing crazy.

I know that Beck and Gray think that their audience is stupid, and if their audience is a little light in the gray matter their condition can be attributed to spending their days listening to Glenn and Pat, but this claim should be an insult even to the intellectual black hole known as Glenn Beck fans.

The very reason that Fox News is so profitable is because it caters to the audience of the closed-minded. The typical FNC viewer does not want to watch a liberal host or guests. If this was what they wanted, they wouldn’t be watching Fox. (To some degree MSNBC follows the same model, but at least some of their hosts like Rachel Maddow and O’Donnell try to give a fair hearing to the opposing point of view. I won’t even venture to include Fox News/Bill O’Reilly styled Keith Olbermann in this discussion). It is a joke that Beck and Gray would even try to sell FNC as a home for dissenting points of view.

The problem with much of cable news is that there is too little discussion from differing points of view, but at least MSNBC is honest about what it is, while Glenn Beck continues to treat his audience like paste eating three year olds, who he continually urges to take their allowance money and buy his latest endorsed trinket, scam, or book.

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Classless Action: Wal-Mart’s Supreme Court War On Workers

Nov 29 2010 Published by under Featured News

The U.S. Supreme Court is going to announce whether or not they will hear a job bias case against Wal-Mart Inc. for discriminating against women, and whether the case will be heard as a class action lawsuit. Wal-Mart claims that one case cannot speak for thousands of employees’ complaints and the lawsuits should be handled individually. Wal-Mart has been joined by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and several large corporations in seeking to end class action lawsuits.

The case centers around a claim that Wal-Mart shortchanged women in wages and promotions, and the lawyer for the plaintiffs claims Wal-Mart was preoccupied with growth and left personnel policies in place that were 20 to 30 years old and discriminatory to women. It is a common complaint with retail giants like Wal-Mart, and if in their own words, there are 1,000s of cases, it is almost certain that they discriminated in the past and in the present. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages because the pool is so large, but estimates claim a settlement could be billions.

If the court does hear the case, it will almost certainly rule in favor of Wal-Mart because this conservative, business friendly court has allowed campaign contributions from foreign countries as a result of the Citizen’s United ruling. The concern of civil rights activists is that the court may deal a blow to consumers and workers by ending the ability for class action lawsuits that are the only recourse to punish large corporations for cheating employees and consumers alike.

Republicans have tried to end class action lawsuits in order to protect corporations from meeting their responsibilities, and to avoid following regulations meant to protect consumers and employees. Republicans have also voted against equal pay for women and recently blocked gender equality legislation meant to protect women in the workplace.

The best outcome is for the Supreme Court to not hear the case that was started in 2001 in San Francisco. After nine years, Wal-Mart’s lawyers have appealed every judgment that sided with the plaintiffs. Wal-Mart’s appealing every decision shows they have the resources and time to shirk their responsibility and wait out the employee who was discriminated against. They know that most employees cannot match their legal team and budget which is why they prefer thousands of individual lawsuits. They would win most individual cases by attrition.

Wal-Mart, the Chamber of Commerce, and large corporations want to end class action lawsuits the same reason they fight against union organizers. Republicans side with corporations by blocking legislation that gives employees and consumers equal footing, and their preference is for big business to have the advantage. When thousands of workers or consumers band together in class action lawsuits, or employee unions, the corporate giants lose their advantage, and by extension, their profit margin.

Large corporations who disregard discrimination laws and cannot get legislation changed by the Republicans take the next logical step by going before the corporation friendly conservative court to make existing laws null and void. It happened with Citizen’s United, and it is going to happen with anti-discrimination laws.  It should be noted that Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness act to ensure that women do not receive equitable pay, and taking away class action lawsuits guarantees women will continue being discriminated against with the court’s approval.

Republicans have pushed for tort reform claiming that it is too costly, but their goal is to restrict consumers and employees from suing for damages when a business or corporation cheats it customers and employees. It is obvious that Republicans and the Supreme Court have a shared goal of forcing the public to submit to the will and whim of the corporate world. Republicans have routinely blocked legislation that benefits ordinary citizens or holds corporations accountable to the law of the land.

The Supreme Court is not supposed to work for corporations whose sole intent is to maneuver around existing laws until Robert’s and his conservative posse can render a decision that removes laws that protect consumers and employees.

Republicans and conservatives complain that activist judges legislate from the bench until the Supreme Court is involved because they know the court will rule in the favor of business and Republicans. When Republicans cannot influence legislation, they turn to the court to change laws meant to protect citizens so they favor corporations.

Wal-Mart has a horrible record of treating their employees with disdain and taking advantage of poor people who need a job. By their own admission, there are thousands of cases against them they do not want lumped together so they can drag out the process and win by attrition. The case of job bias the Supreme Court is deciding began in 2001, and they have managed to drag it out for 9 years. If the U.S. Supreme Court rules that it cannot be heard as a class action, the plaintiffs will have to fight their cases individually, and at the rate of 9 years waiting for a decision, most will throw in the towel.

This case should be left alone and the court should do the right thing and work for the American people for a change. They have given every advantage to corporate America, and now they are going to kill the workers’ only recourse to combat illegal job discrimination. Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness act, and to add insult to injury, the conservative court will give approval for corporations like Wal-Mart to continue their practice of paycheck unfairness, especially for women. It is after all, the conservative way.

3 responses so far

Republican Extremists Take Aim at Moderation

Nov 29 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, U.S. Senate

The punch thrown at Lugar by Republicans won't be joking

Through most of history, western culture has recognized the value of moderation and the evils of excess. Robert McCluer Calhoon, University of North Carolina, Greensboro recognizes its origins in the Peloponnesian War in the Fifth Century B.C.E. (Political Moderation in America’s First Two Centuries, 2008). The Icelandic Sagas are full, for example, of such lessons, the positive rewards of moderate behavior and the ills that follow from immoderate behavior. In politics, the success of the American political system has been based not on irreconcilable bickering between polar opposites and ideologues but upon the system of give and take, and compromise, embodied by moderate politicians.

Political moderation balances the extremes; it, not rancorous polarization, that makes the world go around.

Harry Clor (On Moderation: Defending an Ancient Virtue in a Modern World, 2008), points out that critics have argued that “moderate” and “extremist” are “phenomena wholly subjective and situation-bound, utterly dependent upon variable opinions or commitments, circumstances and partisan perceptions of circumstances.” People see moderation as weakness. But as Clor argues, a moderate politician “builds consensus and unifies; he or she seeks agreement across partisan lines and speaks to the people in a nonconfrontational, noninflammatory way intended to be unifying.”

It is obvious that moderation has no place in modern Republican discourse, whose rhetoric is based on confrontational and inflammatory statements, the more outrageous the better.

But moderation is not betrayal of ideology. The Founding Fathers hammered out a Constitution through compromise. None of the authors of the Constitution got everything they wanted. If the minority would have been unwilling, as are modern Republicans, to compromise, it would never have been ratified. We would still be waiting. Compromise was essential. I will argue here that not only bound up with America’s founding but that it is not moderation that is the enemy of a modern liberal democracy, but extremism.

The Republican Party’s purity standards do not allow for moderation in approaches to America’s problems. The “take no prisoners” approach of Republican victories has morphed into a “scorched earth” leave nothing for the enemy approach in defeat. If they cannot have the country then they will ensure that there is no country left to govern by bringing to a halt any process they disagree with. This goes far beyond filibustering, extending as it does to investigations and inquiries into the behavior of those in power.

It is ironic and troubling that the Republicans accuse the Democrats and President Obama of being extremist ideologues, comparing the president to Hitler and Stalin and the Democrats to Communists and Nazis while themselves evincing all the attributes of these authoritarian political movements.

It is the Republicans, after all, who insist on obedience to ideology, not the Democrats, who embody a far wider range of political views, from moderate to extreme. Finding a moderate Republican these days has become very difficult indeed, and the charge of moderation when laid by the base against a Republican politician is often a kiss of death.

One example of this trend was discussed yesterday in the New York Times: Republican Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana. Lugar is, as the Times reports, “standing against his party on a number of significant issues at a politically dangerous time to do so.” Such a thing is, sadly enough, newsworthy in this day and age, especially with regards a man who has shown himself “A reliable conservative for decades on every issue.”

For his sins (for example, his desire to ratify the START treaty) the Times tells us that,

Mr. Lugar’s recent breaks with his party have stirred the attention of Indiana Tea Party groups, who have him in their sights. “Senator Lugar has been an upstanding citizen representing us in D. C.,” said Diane Hubbard, a spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Tea Party. “But over the years, he has become more moderate in his voting.”

The sin of moderation. Who would have thought?

Even Republicans are shocked and disturbed that a stalwart like Lugar could be targeted.

“If Dick Lugar,” said John C. Danforth, a former Republican senator from Missouri, “having served five terms in the U.S. Senate and being the most respected person in the Senate and the leading authority on foreign policy, is seriously challenged by anybody in the Republican Party, we have gone so far overboard that we are beyond redemption.”

I am reminded by all this of the French Revolution, which began moderately enough and then became more extreme, to the extent that those who began the revolution became its victims, and moderation the enemy. Even a radical liberal like Thomas Paine found himself arrested, the same Thomas Paine who had defended the French Revolution from conservative Edmund Burke (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790 ) in his Rights of Man (1791). I am reminded also of the McCarthyism of the very conservative 1950s, or going further back, of the witch-hunts of the 17th and previous centuries.

History offers abundant lessons beyond the few I mention here of the dangers of extremism run amok. No one is safe, not even the current guardians of the cause. Anyone can be denounced. Anyone can instantly find themselves a Canaanite, vomited out of the Holy Land.

Enemies and traitors lurk around every corner and even under your bed. Eager to remain in favor, the extremists outdo each other by being ever more extreme.

Clor argues that “‘you cannot get it all’ from any social arrangements, no matter how well conceived” and he is right. As I argued above, the Constitution itself is evidence of this. “Concessions are made and compromises achieved” in Clor’s words. It is difficult to see today where compromise will come from. President Obama tried in 2008 and in the two years since. Nobody is really surprised at this point by his failure. And it is difficult to see how the United States can survive without it.

The world will not stand still for us while we engage in deadlock, and it will be difficult for President Obama to go forward while the Republican House wants to go backward. But we know things can get worse. We know, however much the stimulus helped, that we are not out of the woods yet. We have only to look to Europe, to Greece, to Ireland, to Iceland, to see what a truly collapsed economy looks like. The Republicans seem to be steering us in that direction and anyone who doesn’t jump on board the bandwagon has betrayed the ideals of the revolution.

A world without moderation is a bleak place to contemplate, and probably a worse place to live, as we are all likely to find out unless a Republican Edward R. Murrow reveals himself and say “Enough is enough.”

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